After seeing Only God Forgives, I envisioned director Nicolas Winding Refn (also of Drive, Valhalla Rising, Bronson, and others) as a brilliant but misanthropic interior designer, who created spaces for humans too flawed to ever truly appreciate them. That was just the visual I had. He’s clearly a man who cares deeply about aesthetics, and especially about dynamic images, the kind that deliver that visceral, exploitation splatter.
Fitting then, that his latest project is a book of posters that treats vintage exploitation imagery as high art, worthy of display and preservation. The Act Of Seeing is a massive coffee-table book featuring poster art collected and curated by Refn, with historical notes by exploitation film expert Allan Jones. Published by Fab Press, Winding will be in Austin this week for the official Act of Seeing book launch at Mondo Gallery this Friday, and signing autographs at a few Fantastic Fest screenings though the weekend.
The posters came from a massive collection of originals acquired by Refn, which ended up costing him $100,000 to turn into a book. “The whole idea was, I wanted to make the most expensive poster book ever produced, consisting of posters from films no one has ever heard of,” Refn says.
Having seen the book, it’s easy to believe he succeeded. The pages are about 13″ by 12,” and it weighs at least 5 pounds. You could definitely kill someone with it.
I’d heard from friends that Refn could be a tough interview, which I could see being true, insofar as he doesn’t play “yes-and” to make your questions seem better than they are (and I can assure you, as a guy who’s been writing about movies for a long time, most of our questions aren’t very good). The flip side is that he isn’t a waffler. He rarely stumbles or contradicts himself, and generally seems like he offers the genuine, direct answer. If he’s an intimidating interview, he’s a transcriber’s dream. I talked to him this week via Skype about his book, spending part of his childhood in the old, dangerous New York, the Ramones vs. The Eagles and more.